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European Regulatory Spotlight: Google facing deadlines to respond to antitrust charges


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European Regulatory Spotlight: Google facing deadlines to respond to antitrust charges

In this bi-weeklyfeature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of significantrecent regulatory events in Europe.


* Alphabet unit  is facing several Octoberdeadlines to respond to antitrust charges in Europe. Google is due to reply to the European Commission by Oct. 5 regardingallegations that it engaged in anticompetitive behavior with its online searchadvertising. It received extensions on deadlines to reply to other , and now hasuntil Oct. 7 to respond to allegations that it abused its market power byrequirements placed on phone manufacturers using its Android mobile operatingsoftware and until Oct. 13 to comment to a thirdantitrust charge regarding its comparison shopping services, Reuters reported on Sept. 20.


* The European Commission on Sept. 14 proposed a new set of EU internet connectivity objectives thatinclude setting a minimum internet download speed of 100 Mbps for all Europeanhouseholds by 2025. The commission also proposed that 5G connections must becommercially available in at least one major city in every EU member-state by2020.

* Separately, the commission on Sept. 14 proposed revisions to EU copyright rules in a bid to boostcultural diversity and online content across the region. The proposals includean easier legal mechanism for broadcasters to secure permits for cross bordercontent airing online, as well as allowing copyright holders to negotiate andearn compensation for the sharing of content online.


* A London judgeruled Amazon should paya £65,000 fine plus an additional £60,000 to cover prosecution costs incurredby the Civil Aviation Authority after finding that the company breachedaviation safety laws, the regulator saidSept. 23. A south London jury earlier foundAmazon guilty of four counts related to attempting to improperly shiplithium-ion batteries and aerosol cans on passenger flights from January 2014to June 2015.

* A group of British newspaper publishers urged thecountry's government to regulate the activities of online platforms such as Google and Facebook. In a Sept.22 statement, the News Media Association said the government must ensurethat online platforms operate within a framework that is "fair,non-abusive and respectful of media plurality."

* VirginMedia Inc. agreed to pay a €255,000 fine following an investigationby the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) that found the companyfailed to provide 26,046 customers with a contract in a durable form, accordingto a Sept. 22 statementfrom the regulator.

* British telecom regulator Ofcom said in a Sept. 20statement that it has reasonable grounds tobelieve that Sky unit Sky UK breachedrules on terminating contracts for landline and broadband services outside of acooling-off period. Sky has been given an opportunity to make representationsbefore Ofcom issues its final decision on the matter.

* The British government on Sept. 15 published a draft new royal charter and framework agreement ofthe BBC, which seeksgreater transparency for license fee payers, among other reforms. Some of thechanges include: the publication of salary details of top BBC employees; thenational audit office's assumption of responsibility as the BBC's financialauditor; and a full, fair and open competition for the appointment of a new BBCboard chair.

* A majority of the European Parliament backed EUantitrust chief Margrethe Vestager's move against 'stax dealings in Ireland, The Irish Times reported on Sept. 14. The show of support comes after the Irish governmentdecided to appeal an EC order for the country to collect backtaxes of up to €13 billion plus interest from Apple.


*Swiss citizens voted in favor of stricter supervision oftheir telephone and online communications in a Sept. 25referendum, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Sept. 25. Initial calculationsby polling firm gfs.bern showed that 66% voted in favor of the law, which hadalready been through parliament, to help the Federal Intelligence Service inSwitzerland fight terrorism.

* RTL Group will notchallenge a lawsuit in the Higher Administrative Court in , Werbenund Verkaufen reported on Sept. 23. The German private television channellost an earlier lawsuit for product placement of a Bahlsen chocolate bar in a2014 episode of "Ich bin ein Star - Holt mich hier raus!"

* The Monopolies Commission in Germany warned ofover-regulating technology companies like online rental portal Airbnb, taxihailing app Uber and financial technology companies, FrankfurterAllgemeine Zeitung reported on Sept. 20. Instead, the commission plans to adopt a more nuanced approach to regulation thatconsiders the advantages these technologies bring.

* Frankfurt-based De-CIX, which runs the world'sbiggest internet hub, became the first company to sue the German FederalIntelligence Service, Bundesnachrichtendienst, over what it argues are illegalrequests for mass surveillance, Die Zeit reported on Sept. 16.

* U.S. andDutch authorities want to pay a settlement of $1.4 billion over unethical conduct connected with thecompany's entry into Uzbekistan in2007, Telia saidin a Sept. 15 statement. While Telia Chairman Marie Ehrling said the companywas prepared to take responsibility for its "unethical and wrongful"approach to the Uzbekistan entry, Ehrling characterized the proposed settlementfigure as "very high." "We will now have to analyze theinformation and decide on how to proceed with the ongoing discussions with theauthorities," she said in a statement.


* Two cases filed by  and Fininvest against Vivendi have been set for a court hearing March 21,2017, Advanced Television reported on Sept. 16. Vivendi is being sued after backing offfrom the original deal to acquire Mediaset unit Mediaset Premium.


* Ukraine'sparliament adopted changes to its law on state support of cinema, allowingfeature film producers to apply for funding of as much as 80% of the productionbudget, up from the previous 50%. TV series producers are also entitled to getfunding of up to 50% of production expenses, Broadband TV News reportedon Sept. 23.